High-powered beverage entrepreneurs have been enlisted in the fight against slavery and the result is scheduled to arrive in consumers’ hands in the next few weeks.
Bossa Nova co-founder Palo Hawken – the company was eventually purchased by Sunny Delight — helped develop the soon-to-launch REBBL tea line, which seeks to provide indigenous tribes in the Peruvian rainforest with the means to create a stable business that will allow them to protect themselves from enslavement.
The brand, whose name is an anagram for “Roots, Extracts, Berries, Bark and Leaves” is made from plants common to the ecologically diverse Amazonian rainforest. If the project works, it may eventually spread to other regions of the world where populations are vulnerable to slavery: Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe in particular.
Supporters receive four bottles of the initial run of REBBL for every $35 they donate. The initial goal is to raise $150,000 in a month-long period.
The product – a Hibiscus Mint tea with Maca Root, Cat’s Claw & Guayusa — was the result of a February, 2011 brainstorming session seeking a business model that could be exported to at-risk populations; it was sponsored by the “Not For Sale” cause spearheaded by California-based writer, investor and teacher David Batstone. One team in the session – which, incidentally, included San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, who has received attention for his philanthropic involvement – came up with an idea for harvesting ingredients in the Amazon to create the tea.
The company brought on Hawken and former Starbucks and Bossa Nova executive Larry Wu to help design the product; while Wu and Branch have since moved on, Hawken remains affiliated with the group.
REBBL is not yet available in retail environments but is being launched at a series of parties, the first of which took place last week in San Francisco, along with others in Atlanta and Minneapolis. Not For Sale has crowdsourced much of the startup cash through a platform called Causes.com, a site that encourages donation to any number of philanthropic campaigns. As such, the project has gained some coverage from technology media in recent weeks as an example of a way to start a cause-oriented nonprofit business.
NOTE: An earlier headline for this story indicated that REBBL was a non-profit enterprise. REBBL is a for-profit company affiliated with the non-profit enterprise Not For Sale. The headline has been changed to reflect that distinction.